4 Law Firms That Are Disrupting the Legal Sector

Some firms are struggling to keep up while others acknowledge and embrace that innovation lends a hand in improving employee and customer relationships.             

Anna Talamo|
June 20, 2018

A portion of the legal sector appears to have missed the memo that firms desperately need to innovate. According to the “Closing the Innovation Gap” survey conducted by Thomson Hine, 96% of respondents reported seeing little to no innovation at their company over the past three years.

While the world rapidly advances, some legal professionals seem content doing the same thing they’ve always done. As independent advisor Richard Susskind put it: “It’s hard to convince a room full of millionaires that they’ve got their business model wrong.”

Nowadays, however, clients and employees are craving innovation.

The 2017 “Law Firms in Transition” survey showed that 94% of respondents want to focus on improved efficiency. Unfortunately, less than half of law firms say that they’ve actually changed their approach.

Some firms are struggling to keep up while others acknowledge and embrace that innovation lends a hand in improving employee and customer relationships, reducing waste and cost, and boosting market position.

These four firms are recognized for their dedication to idea management and innovation, and the rest of the legal sector should take note.

Allen & Overy

Recognized as the 2017 “Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe,” Allen & Overy is disrupting the legal sector in over 30 countries.

“Innovation is at the heart of our culture at A&O and we strive to embed it in everything we do, with our clients and for our clients,” says senior partner Wim Dejonghe, co-creator of their new technology, Fuse.

Fuse is a program that allows tech companies, A&O lawyers, technologists and their clients to collaborate, develop and test tech-enable solutions.

This strategy allows for the company to harness the disruptive technologies necessary to more efficiently meet clients’ needs.

The project came to fruition when the firm felt that they weren’t fully grasping how disruption was going to affect the legal sector.

“We felt that we weren’t nearly knowledgeable enough about the emerging technologies, how they are going to affect us and our clients and, therefore, how we could take advantage of those opportunities,” says Jonathan Braynce, chairman of Fuse and head of A&O’s innovation panel.

Fuse intends to move technology higher up on the company’s agenda and drive more engagement among community lawyers. In all, 84 start-ups applied for the cohort, and seven joined.

Fenwick & West

Employees at Fenwick & West created the FLEX program in 2010 after noticing that clients were searching for cheaper, more efficient alternatives to the expensive day-to-day billing of traditional law firms.

Nowadays, clients expect more predictable legal bills and FLEX offers a fixed-fee pricing model so that the final bill is no surprise.

Clients can purchase pre-paid blocks of attorney time or choose the number of days per week their attorney works for them.

Essentially, FLEX makes lawyers at Fenwick & West more accessible.

“You don’t want to see a brain surgeon if you just need a checkup and have only budgeted for the co-payment,” says Alexandra Smith, former Senior Director of Product and Services Development at Fenwick. “FLEX offers clients a trusted alternative to meet those needs.”


With their mission of “enhancing speed and accuracy of document review; generating insights specific to the engagement; and reducing our clients’ costs,” Orrick is a top leading advisor to the global technology sector. They were voted “The Most Innovative North American Law Firm” by Financial Times in both 2016 and 2017 for the development and implementation of high-tech systems.

They built their renowned litigation management system, CaseStream, for file storage, collaboration and secure remote access. Orrick developed CaseStream based on extensive feedback received from in-house litigation members and litigation teams.

In addition, Orrick Analytics consists of a team of lawyers, statisticians and other professionals utilizing state-of-the-art technology and probability modeling. This innovative approach allows for massive document and contract reviews, and other due diligence.

“We are excited to be among the leading law firms, corporate legal departments and other companies helping the legal industry catch up on innovation,” says Chairman and CEO Mitch Zuklie. “Our clients are focused on innovating and adding value, and we share that commitment for many reasons. We believe the opportunities are enormous.”

Seyfarth Shaw

Providing counsel to over 300 Fortune 500 companies, Seyfarth Shaw has also taken home some hardware recently after being awarded the 2017 Innovative Law Firm of the Year Award by the International Legal Technology Association.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of technology that enhances what our lawyers do best: counsel and serve our clients,” said Pete Miller, Seyfarth’s chair and managing partner.

The company was recognized for its groundbreaking advances in robotics software. Along with SeyfarthLean Consulting, they created the Robotics Center of Excellence in order to automate tedious processes that clog up their manpower. Now, robots are completing these tasks in a fraction of the time – completing tasks that took humans 34 minutes to do in five – and leaving people to focus on higher-value work.

The Clio 2017 Legal Trends Report found that 67% of clients take response time into consideration when determining an attorney to hire.

So, Seyfarth Shaw created the “Ask Lee” chatbot, which is available to answer client questions at any point in time. This has increased collaboration with clients in a fast and efficient manner.

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